These shiny, reddish or golden-brown seeds are the richest natural source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that's also found in soybean oil, canola oil, and walnuts. Because our bodies can't make omega-3 fats, we must get them from food. The other main omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found mainly in fatty fish. Nutrition experts recommend getting at least one rich source of omega-3 fats daily. So if you don't eat fish, flaxseeds are a good option.
Flaxseeds, which have a slightly nutty taste, contain other healthful nutrients, including protein, fiber, and lignans (plant chemicals with antioxidant effects). Small studies suggest that consuming whole or ground flaxseeds may lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.